Dairy born steers accounted for 55% of the national steer kill in 2015, according to Teagasc’s Robert Prendiville.

Speaking at the recent Teagasc National Beef Conference, the Teagasc Research Officer told the 750 strong crowd that the face of the Irish beef industry is changing.

“There is an increase in the proportion of dairy calves available for beef production. To put that in context from 2013 to 2015 there is an extra 117,000 dairy cows in the national herd,” he said.

Prendiville said that Ireland’s seasonal dairy production system has the capacity to provide over 800,000 cattle for beef production on an annual basis.

“As it stands the system of production for dairying is still seasonal, approximately 80-90% of the cows calve between January and the first of May.

“Approximately 300,000 calves born from that 1.2m dairy herd are retained in the national dairy herd as replacements.

That leaves approximately 840,000 calves available for beef production, while approximately 60,000-70,000 Holstein Friesian calves are exported to Continental Europe.

“There is still a plentiful supply of these male dairy calves available for beef production,” he said.

The Teagasc representative also said that the male dairy calves are the dominant calf available for beef production in Ireland.

He added that early maturing beef breeds, such as Hereford and Angus, represent 43% of these calves, but when Holstein Friesian bulls are included it jumps to 85%.

“There after approximately 7% are Limousin, 3% are Belgian Blue and 6% are other, so other breeds really account for about 95,000 calves,” he said.

Prendiville also stressed that a decision needs to be made on the production system that the calf is entering before a purchase is made.

“A lot of thought may be put into the type of animal that may be purchased, maybe some people fall down on the planned slaughter date of the animals may be be.

Whether it is Holstein Friesian, late maturing or early maturing they are all approximately 29-30 months of age at slaughter.

“The Holstein Friesian steers kill out at approximately 325kg, the early maturing are 335kg at slaughter and the late maturing are 370kg,” he said.